The Kelley’s of Methuen, MA recently hired Perry Brothers Construction, a home remodeling company located in Newbury, MA, to remodel the basement of their home. Now, general manager Joe DeMarco sits down with the Kelley’s to learn about their experience working with Perry Brothers Construction.

Joe: Let’s do it. Okay.

Patryk: It’s not real stable.

Joe: No, it’s okay. All right. So we got Patryk Kelly here in Methuen Mass. And I’m Joe DeMarco from Perry Brothers Construction. And we’re here just to discuss Patryk’s recent basement remodel down here. You’re a new homeowner, correct?

What Are Your Prior Experiences With Home Remodeling?

Patryk: So, we’ve been around here since 2015, September 2015. So we’re coming up, I think on seven years now.

Joe: Seven years?

Patryk: It’s been a little while. Yeah. So not quite new. Maybe in like, I’d say, mid-tier homeownership range.

Joe: So you bought the house seven years ago

Patryk: Yes, yes. But we weren’t able to really do too drastic of a change as we just did because of other things that we had to do around the house. But the basement was really the biggest project that we have done so far.

Joe: Oh, so what other kind of work have you done around the house?

Patryk: So when we first purchased the home, we had the entire upstairs floors gutted. We had new ceilings put in. We had a new roof put in as well. And by ceilings, I mean replastering the ceilings.

Joe: Was this for the kitchen or the upstairs?

Patryk: For the upstairs. But the basement compared to that is by far the largest project, we were essentially rebuilding an entire floor of the house from scratch, ripped down to the studs.

Joe: Okay. So it was almost like you had to go through gutting and the entire remodeling process on your own beforehand, before doing the basement?

Patryk: Yes. So for the upstairs, by gutting, I mean having the floors going down to the subfloor and then having new floors put in and then painting and then having the ceilings done. Whereas down here, you know, you could see this foundation wall. And they did everything from framing to what you see now.

Joe: Yeah. Okay, okay. I see what you mean. So upstairs it was more like you were refinishing upstairs, rather than remodeling,

Patryk: Whereas down here it was exactly that, remodeling. We had been in contact with a couple of different people. The way we found out about Perry Construction Brothers, I mean Perry Brothers Construction.

Joe: Perry Brothers Construction.

Patryk: Yeah.

Joe: It’s okay.

How Can Timelines Impact A Remodeling Project?

Patryk: You guys also did a big job for my mom, with her basement. And she had a very positive experience with you guys. So the reason why we were kind of looking at other contractors in addition to you guys was because you guys had a pretty busy timeline, but I think something happened to free it up. So that’s why we ended up going through with you guys, but we weren’t sure, depending on what our timeline was relative to yours.

Joe: Yeah, because Bill has a lot of different jobs and stuff.

Patryk: Exactly. But luckily it turned out that it did open up, so we were able to go with our first choice, which was you guys.

Joe: How many years ago did Bill Perry do your mom’s basement?

Patryk: Pretty much just maybe about a year, or six months to a year before he started our job. So it was very close. So he was already in contact with her. And I do think that he has ongoing projects with her now. So we’re customers that keep coming back.

Joe: Well that’s very important. What was the timeframe it took for her basement remodel to be finished compared to yours?

Patryk: I think it was pretty similar. I believe ours started in November, but Bill said from the get-go, “We may have to do more than you see, because we won’t know the scope of what we need to do until we rip the walls down.” And what we found is once the initial sort of removal of everything had been done, we needed stuff that we hadn’t known we would need to do. In our case, we needed to have a full perimeter sump pump system installed. We needed to have some additional plumbing installed.

Joe: Were these surprises when you were first ripping it up?

Patryk: We knew that we were probably going to have to do it, but we didn’t know it was as bad as it was.

Joe: Okay.

Patryk: So the full scope of our project was from around November to around, I believe, late May. So I think that puts us at around six months.

Did Perry Brothers Construction Communicate Clearly?

Joe: Not only with Bill, did you feel like the entire team communicated really well with you?

Patryk: Yup. Yeah. So communication was never an issue. You’d either talk to Bill or you’d talk to Mike, or you would talk to the guys when they were here. They’d always ask for your opinion, they wouldn’t just pursue a project, they’d sort of explain to you how to approach something, they’d always ask for your input. And then with your input, they would make the call, because they’re the experts. So with this being a basement, there were lots of little things that needed to be figured out because you need to be able to access stuff. And they were great throughout the entire process. I never had any communication issues.

Joe: Did you feel like you learned a lot, even, from them?

Patryk: Actually, more than I wanted to learn. Yeah. Yeah. I learned, it was interesting because you learn about the house, you learn what’s the main support beam, what this part of your basement is for, where all the pipes go. So it was interesting. But then it does get, as with any remodeling, it does get stressful, because your house is sort of all over the place.

Joe: You have people in your house all the time.

Patryk: Yeah, and at the time it was COVID, I was working from home, but it was good to be here at that time. I think maybe that’s the reason why the timeline went very well was because they didn’t have to delay trying to get an answer from me for something. I was here. So if I would come downstairs to see what was going on and they’d be like, “Oh, hey, over here we ran into this. What’s your thought?”

What Financial Options Did You Consider When Planning You Basement Remodel

Joe: So you work from home?

Patryk: I do. As you can see.

Joe: What do you do for work?

Patryk: So I do strategy for a biotech company.

Joe: Okay, cool.

Patryk: Yeah.

Joe: Yeah.

Patryk: It’s not very exciting, but…

Joe: But you make the dough to get the basement remodeled.

Patryk: I mean, you’d think, but no. 

Joe: It’s expensive anyway.

Patryk: So the way we were able, what made this possible was we were able to borrow against the house, because the rates at the time luckily were still low. So we took out a loan to pay for the house. Because at that time, the price of materials was going up, so we were able to take from what savings we had to fill the gaps of what the loan didn’t cover.

So what I think what was good was when we signed the initial agreement with you guys, that kind of tackled the scope of the project, that price was lower because those material prices hadn’t started to go up yet. But there was a couple of things that we changed to the original plans. For example, maybe it’ll show up in the pictures you’ll take, is having that laundry closet, that originally was going to be exposed.

And then also, I believe we added maybe one or two other things. Nothing too drastic, but we noticed that the price increase was reflected in those addendums that were added to the original contract. But that’s just driven by the market.

Joe: So you had to add extra expenses to the contract as the project went on.

Patryk: Of course. Yeah.

Joe: That’s natural to happen.

Patryk: Yeah, of course. I mean, they say that you said a budget, but you’ll expect to spend a certain margin above your project.

What Were Your Goals When Planning This Basement Remodel?

Joe: Is that your wife too, actually?

Patryk: Yes.

Joe: It’d be actually awesome if she just talk a little.

Patryk: Yeah.

Joe: First off, what’s your name?

Marta: Marta.

Joe: Marta?

Marta: Yes.

Joe: Marta. Okay. Marta. So just during this time Me and Patryk have been talking about the kind of the surprises and everything that he experienced, as well as everything he was learning during the remodeling process. For you too, what kind of… I don’t know, what were your initial goals when you decided you wanted to remodel the basement? What did you want out of this basement?

Marta: I would say in order for it to not look like it was haunted.

Joe: You felt like it was haunted.

Marta: I mean, we just wanted to fix the humidity problems. We wanted to get rid of the mold. And I would say that was the biggest thing, was water preventing water from getting into the basement? But really we just wanted it to feel like a welcoming space.

Joe: Well that’s important. Definitely.

Marta: Yeah.

Joe: Yeah. No, I see. I mean, is this kind of an entrance to your guys’ home too, you feel like?

Marta: I mean, it could be.

Patryk: Yeah, I think it depends on where you’re coming from. If you’re in the backyard, you’ll come through here. If you come through the garage too. It’s definitely a space of the house that we’re going to be proud to show to people now.

Joe: Well, yeah, for sure. 

Joe: Even just going down the stairs over there, you see the guitars and stuff coming in. This is just a very cool space, plus, too, you got the window for the plants and everything. I mean, this is a really peaceful environment to work in. At least to me. And to me, you got to have a window for sure.

Patryk: Yep.

Marta: Yes.

Patryk: Yeah. And that was another, we were talking about the changes that we had made, like the laundry closet. This was another thing that we added in after.

Marta: Yeah.

Patryk: That was a big change because we originally were not going to have a window here.

Did You Have To Deal With Any Draft Issues When Remodeling? 

Joe: Did you guys have to do the door, too, the exterior door? Did you have to redo that?

Marta: We redid it. Yeah.

Joe: Well, was it having any draft issues or anything of that sort?

Marta: I think it was just an older door that we had. So yeah, the draft was getting through below. So they recommended, if we wanted to really get the humidity away, to change the doors, which I think was great.

Patryk: Yep.

Marta: Because we were able to have one installed that had more glass. Because that was another goal. We wanted as much light as possible so that it didn’t feel like a dungeon.

Joe: Yeah. But you still wanted the insulation.

Marta: Yes.

Joe: Enough insulation inside the door, of course.

Patryk: Exactly.

Marta: Exactly. Yeah.

Patryk: It could be cold down here too, right? Not just humid. Probably cold and stuff too.

Marta: It used to be. I feel like it’s not anymore.

Joe: The temperature feels perfect, right?

Marta: Yeah.

Patryk: Yes.

Choosing The Right Heating And Cooling System For Your Basement

Joe: What are you guys using for temperature and everything?

Patryk: Sure. So we’re using, if you see here, see how that part of the basement kind of drops down. Maybe people will be able to see it in the photos.

Joe: Right there.

Patryk: Exactly. So that’s the main trunk line of the house. The reason why it’s wider is cause that’s also the main support beam. So both those things are behind that dropdown. And it’s those vents you see that are tied directly into the heating and cooling system of the house. So luckily it doesn’t just go upstairs, it comes downstairs as well.

Joe: Okay. So yeah, it’s a central heating and cooling system. Did you think about… I have a mini split in my basement. Was that ever something that came up as something you thought about?

Patryk: So we actually asked an opinion of someone, an HVAC specialist, to get their recommendation on what to do for the basement. And they said that our unit was modern enough, in terms of heating, where if we were to cut into the vent line and have the heat be directed down here as well as upstairs, it would’ve been sufficient based on the ratings of our heating unit.

Joe: So you already had something working, so why change it?

Patryk: Yeah. Yep.

Marta: Yeah.

Joe: Absolutely.

Patryk: And cooling as well.

Marta: Yeah.

Patryk: But it’s usually cool enough down here where I don’t think AC is as much of an issue, but we’ll see what winter will be like with the heat.

Marta: I was going to say that we did have some extra plugs installed in case we had to attach… What are those called, that you put on the wall for extra heating?

Patryk: Yeah, I believe they’re called convection heaters. They don’t use a lot of energy and they’re relatively cheap to operate. My parents have them. I think Bill recommended them for my parents, and I believe they’re called Envi heaters. So in the situation where it becomes too cold, that could be a solution we go with. But I think we’ll be fine with heating.

Marta: Yeah.

How Would You Rate Your Experience With Perry Brothers Construction?

Joe: I think we covered a lot of good stuff about your basement remodel. I guess for now, the last question I’d like to go on is just, are you guys happy with it. I mean, we kind of already discussed that too, but just overall, just with all things considered, pricing, the process, we talked about the communication, just Bill as a businessman in general, did you feel like everything went well? Just describe it a little bit.

Patryk: So like any remodel, any remodel, regardless of who you have, is going to be stressful because you’re seeing your home being torn apart. For the better, but things are in pieces.

Joe: It’s hard to picture the end of it.

Patryk: Exactly, exactly. It’s hard, especially when you see everything being gutted. It’s hard to imagine that it could look like this one day. But for as stressful as an experience as that could be, I think in every sort of possible aspect of the requirements that go into this project, Bill and the company made it as easy as possible to get through it. Being a good balance of giving you incredible work for a fair price, being very communicative and you also didn’t feel cheated.

Because sometimes there’s the stereotype that they’ll try to cut corners and do things as cheaply as possible. And if it’s behind the wall, the homeowner may not know. But we never felt like that at any point. So they would either ask for my opinion or they would ask Marta’s opinion.

Marta: Yeah.

Patryk: And they were also very respectful in the fact that you need to make sure that if you’re making a major call with something in the basement, you want to have the consensus of two people. So I never felt pressured to make a decision. I’d always say, I’d want to check with Marta beforehand. And they’d always say, “Oh no, we completely understand.”

Marta: Yeah.

Patryk: So that was great.

Marta: And that’s one thing I wanted to add to what you were saying. When we first started this whole thing and we started trying to get budgets… No, not budgets, what’s it called?

Patryk: Bids.

Marta: Proposals from different people. I felt like the only person that actually listened to us and provided what we were looking for was Bill. And that was the case through the entire process. Even if that meant not finishing the job when initially it was said it was going to be done.

Joe: He kept his word the whole time.

Marta: He listened to us, even if that slows the whole thing down a little bit. But I think that was huge. Because he didn’t just want to be done to move on to the next job. He wanted to make sure that what he did was really what everyone wanted.

Joe: That’s super important.

Patryk: And the other thing that was nice was like what we were saying before, it’s a basement, so there’s going to be problems that maybe you didn’t account for. And we didn’t feel nitpicked for the little things that they had to figure out. For example, we have two sump pumps that were installed in the basement. So when paneling over that and figuring out how to do this, they just did it.

They didn’t say like, “Oh, it’s going to be an additional two to three, x amount of dollars to solve it.” So aside from the big things like the laundry closet and the window, which were pretty drastic changes and additional things that we wanted done, we just never felt he was nitpicky about every tiny, small, little thing. It was just because he wanted to do a good job for the full scope of the project.

Joe: This is Joe DeMarco with Perry Brothers Construction signing off. Feel free to contact us or and we’ll see you at the next interview. All right.

Marta: Bye.